I am writing today with what is hopefully welcome news regarding the new water billing infrastructure fees. In short, if you have a $60.88 monthly infrastructure fee (due to having a 1″ water meter), it is being reduced to $28.22, resulting in monthly savings of $32.66, or annual savings of $391.92. While I recognize that the solution is not ideal, I believe it is far fairer and provides much needed relief. This will inevitably increase our ability to retain residents and help continue to grow our City. Please see below the following: 1) background on water billing changes; 2) impact on single family dwelling units; 3) steps I took to work with the Mayor’s Office and DPW; 4) details on the solution; and 5) next steps.


As reported in the Baltimore Sun, the City’s Board of Estimates approved changes to the water billing structure on August 31, 2016. These changes include the creation of the new Account Management Fee (which helps pay for the cost of administering the account) and the new Infrastructure Fee (which helps pay for the cost of upgrading our aging pipes and plants). Under the old water billing structure, these fixed costs were included in the quarterly Water and Sewer rates.

With respect to the new Infrastructure Fee, the fee for a 5/8” meter is $15.22 per month, significantly less than the fee of $60.88 for a 1” meter. Most townhouses or row homes in Baltimore City have 5/8” meters. More information on the new water billing system is available on DPW’s website.


Due to recent (2007) changes to City Code {Building, Fire, and Related Codes of Baltimore City, Section 313), any newly-constructed townhouses or 1- or 2- family dwellings are required to have an approved automatic residential fire sprinkler system installed. The sprinkler system comes with the need for a 1” meter, as opposed to a 5/8” meter. Newly-constructed townhomes are now incurring an increase of nearly $550 more per year more than townhomes without sprinklers installed.


As you can imagine, I have received a number of complaints about the new Account Management Fee and the Infrastructure Fee, in addition to the increases to the Water and Sewer rates. DPW has been a good partner in providing services to our residents and businesses and I was hopeful we could work together to find a solution.

Since this was first discovered in November 2016, I have had nearly a dozen meetings and conversations with the City’s Chief of Operations Pete Hammen, and DPW Director Rudy Chow. Chief Hammen and Director Chow have been extremely diligent and accommodating in working together to find a reasonable solution.


Going forward, instead of being charged an infrastructure fee that reflects the actual 1-inch meter size, DPW will set the fee back to the lowest infrastructure fee currently available, but also apply a fire suppression fee of $13 per month. This is the same fire protection fee paid by larger water customers with a separately metered fire line for sprinkler systems, which helps DPW offset the costs of maintaining a water delivery system capable of supplying enough water at the pressure needed for fire suppression purposes. Homes with the 1” meter will now be billed at the 5/8” rate of $15.22 with a fire protection fee of $13.00 per month, resulting in a total of $28.22, resulting in savings of $32.66 per monthly, or $391.92 annually.


You should see these changes on your next bill. In addition, you should be receive a letter from DPW with more detailed information on the billing changes. If you don’t see these changes on your next bill, you can contact DPW at dpw.billing@baltimorecity.gov or 410-396-5890. You may also let my office know by emailing me at: eric.costello@baltimorecity.gov (preferred method) or 410-396-4816.